So I was running with Cindy on Saturday and telling her that she should map out her half marathon on the usatf map site( http://www.usatf.org/routes/map/ ) or another that allows you to see the elevation and do it mile by mile so you can get a sense of the elevation changes. I also told her I used to write out a plan for each mile and review it each day leading up to the race so mentally I knew what was coming on each mile. I haven't done the writing it out part in a while because I've gotten better at the visualization so I now can just map out the route and save it and just go back and view it each day. I've decided that I would write out again and do it as blog post so I can go back and look at it after the race and compare the plan to what I actually did to see if/how it helped. I just noticed the Hybrid functionality will allow you to see the satellite image and street names at the same time, making the visualization even better. Note, while mapping this, the mile markers on the mapping site do not line up with the markers on the race map, but here goes...
Mile 1: Looks fairly flat, starts outside the YMCA bldg. Remember to hold back a bit and not get caught up in the adrenaline of the start. Want to do a 9:00 minute pace here to make sure I'm warmed up before getting to any bigger hills. Elevation goes up about 70 feet with a small bump at the .5 mile mark.
Mile 2: This mile is mostly uphill, about a 125 feet of elevation change up with only two small downs to recover. Looks like we will be running by some nice houses to help distract from the climb. Want to remember to not push too hard this early in the race on the hills, so a 9:15 - 9:30 would be good here.
Mile 3: Is a rolling out and back so after recovering a bit, need to get into race pace. If I can hold an 8:50 for this mile I should be able to keep that up the rest of the way, if not I need to remember to be more conservative. Remember the goal is to break 2:00 for the half and that takes a 9:08 +- a second or two so if you're not feeling it, don't push it.
Mile 4: Another rolling mile, but not a lot of elevation change. Should be able to hold a sub 9 here. Looks like a hill is starting at the end of this mile as we approach the turn onto Forest Drive. Warwick and Arbor would be a good place to drop any extra clothes so I can pick it up on the way back.
Mile 5: Oaklawn is a very long straight road for the first .75 of this mile, looks fairly flat with a false flat up, then a quick down up down over the last half mile. Might be a good place for a gel if they have a water stop somewhere on this mile.
Mile 6: Looks like we are entering Wake Forest University here. If I didn't get my gel on mile 5, definitely do it here as this mile so far appears to be the easiest of the bunch, a slight up, followed by a long gradual down. Should be on sub 9 mile pace now if feeling good, otw, stay at 9 - 9:05.
Mile 7: This appears to start off on a trail similar to the umstead fire roads before reconnecting to streets on the other side of WFU. Starts with a long climb then a short down and finally flat. Stay strong on this hill as the downhill after will allow plenty of time to recover. Do a time check here, should be less than 64 minutes, if not, time to pick it up. Also looks like we will be crossing with the leaders who will be on their way back at this point so remember to cheer them on.
Mile 8: This is an out and back on Faculty Rd. the out is gradual up, the back is gradual down. Good time to gauge how I am feeling and try an 8:40 if feeling good or if just holding on, stay with a 9 to save it for the end.
Mile 9: Heading into the meat of the university, take some time and look around to distract from the pain that will start any time now. Once again this mile starts with a hard uphill, but followed by a long gradual down, if stomach allows take a gel here, stay strong on the first part, try to pass some people if possible.
Mile 10: This is an important mile, really pay attention to how the body is feeling during this mile. It starts with a nice downhill, then ends with a long uphill. We are now back on the trail and the return trip to the start. If you see the trailing runners keep cheering them on. At the end of this mile do another time check to see what kind of 5k is needed to get your goal.
Mile 11: at the start of this mile we have a 5k to go. Anything under 1:33 minutes is good, meaning we have a 27 minute 5k to break 2 hours. If I'm feeling good, pick up the pace, if bad, just keep it steady and hang on. After the long uphill end to mile ten we have an easy downhill to recover once again. Then we leave WFU and head back into the city.
Mile 12: This mile looks nice. a couple climbs, but mostly downhill. Time to pick up the pace. Near the end of this mile keep an eye out for the sweatshirt I dropped at mile 4. If time looks tight, don't stop for it, just keep going. With two miles to go should be able to keep at least an 8:45 pace.
Mile 13: Last mile before the finish, adrenaline should be kicking in now, but don't start to sprint yet, control the pace, pick it up, but don't over do it, there is still a mile to go. This mile is mostly downhill, so an 8:30 or better is in order. That is, if the legs are feeling good still of course.
Mile 13.1: Looks like there is a little bit of a hill before the end, push up this hill, make it a goal to pass some people here then when you see the finish line give it all you got.
When I mapped it out, http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=338503, it came out to 13.4 miles and the mile markers didn't quite line up with what was on the event websites map, so I'm a bit nervous about that part, but it is registered as an official half marathon on usatf site, so I'm hoping the mapping software is just off.
The McMillan running calculator, ( http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/mcmillanrunningcalculator.htm ) says that based on my 5k and 8k times I should be able to break 1:55, but my original goal was 2 hours so that is still my goal. I will adjust my race, before and during based on weather and race day events but since I have a 5 minute cushion I feel very confident that I will break 2 hours finally for the half marathon and should beat it by even more.
Current half marathon PR = 2:10:16, back in 2007 so I'm psyched to get yet another PR broken this year.